Application of the Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence to assess mercury contamination in the sediments of the estuary of Santos, SP, Brazil

Ronaldo Torres, Victoria Rezende, Thalita Sousa


For decades, the region of Baixada Santista has been undergoing an intensive process of industrialization. The area concentrates industrial activities, chemical and petrochemical companies that continuously release expressive amounts of trace metals and several organic pollutants into the ocean, and the estuarine sediments trap and store these contaminant residues. Due to its differentiated characteristics such as high bioaccumulation capacity and high toxicity at low concentrations, Mercury became the target of this study. Results obtained by Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (TXRF) presented Hg concentrations of 0.15 to 0.77 mg kg-1 in the sediments of the Santos estuary, with an 88% recovery rate of Certified Sediments. The comparison with other methodologies applied in previous researches shows that this approach has proven to be compatible with previously used techniques, obtaining results consistent with the history of mercury contamination of the estuary within the last 20 years.

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